Dick's Drive-In

In the early 1950s, Dick’s Drive-In revolutionized the hamburger meal in Seattle by providing instant service at low prices. 70 years, seven outposts, and a truck later, it’s still true, though it’s technically not a drive-in—you do need to get out of your car to order, even at the original Wallingford location.

If you’re a born-and-raised Seattleite, chances are that you adore this beloved institution. And, call it a hunch, nothing anyone says or does will change that fact. But someone has to say it: a burger, fries, and a shake from Dick’s is always a let-down. If you’ve never been before, it’d be wise to lower your expectations of this Seattle landmark.

Dick's Drive-In review image

And yet, sometimes, that fluorescent orange glow appears in our peripheral vision, and suddenly we crave their paper-thin meat discs. Especially if we’ve responsibly indulged in a few adult beverages beforehand. That’s the power of the Dick’s Deluxe. The double-decker of lightbulb-warmed yellow american cheese and sweet pickle mayo does wonders to enhance an otherwise-boring burger, and this humble sandwich is a classic that’s intensely relevant to the city’s culture—much like Dick’s itself. Macklemore shot scenes of his “White Walls" music video at the Broadway location. Tomo once had the exterior doodled on their menu cover. Roquette served a cocktail featuring liquor fat-washed with Dick’s melted chocolate milkshakes. Local couples often order trays of burgers for their weddings. And don’t get us started on the “greasy bag" jokes. The company is also inherently good—they pay their employees way above minimum wage, and offer childcare assistance, health insurance, and scholarships. It’s impossible not to appreciate that.

Alas, the beef here is unfortunately almost always unseasoned, dry, and tough. When you’re lucky and the hand-cut potatoes were just dropped to fry, welcome to potato-based bliss. But that pretty much never happens, and they usually come out flimsy, inconsistently salted, and saturated with cold sunflower oil that leaves a slick coating on your lips.

So no, Dick’s won’t ever be our first choice for locally-born fast food—we’ll give the edge there to Burgermaster (the one on 520) or Pick-Quick. But if we found ourselves strapped in a Subaru that’s already pulled into the parking lot? Yeah, you bet your ass that we won’t say no to a deluxe and fries.

Food Rundown

Dick's Drive-In review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Dick's Deluxe

The beef here trends dry—so then why is The Dick’s Deluxe, a double-stacked burger, the best thing on the menu? The toppings work overtime. The stars of the show here are a sweet tartar sauce that seeps through strands of iceberg lettuce, and yellow american slapped between each patty. It’s simple, but the marriage of relish-spiked mayo and two layers of gooey cheese is thoroughly tasty, and ultimately what saves the burger from being bland.

Dick's Drive-In review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Hand-Cut Fries

On each visit, we order these fries and chant, “don’t be soggy, don’t be soggy, don’t be soggy,” and they’re soggy. It makes us want to start buying Powerball tickets and chant, “don’t win the lottery, don’t win the lottery, don’t win the lottery.”